Happy MLB Draft Day! As Matthew covered last week, the first round of the draft is today (starting at 4 P.M.) and the Mariners have the number 3 pick. This is probably my favorite draft out of all the major sports because no one really knows what’s going on aside from the people inside the organization. Last year is a perfect example. Everyone and their dog had the Mariners taking a hitter with the number 2 pick last summer. It would be Anthony Rendon. If not, it’d be Bubba Starling or Francisco Lindor. Then the Mariners took Danny Hultzen. Lookout Landing had a meltdown, U.S.S. Mariner authors were shocked and I had friends on Facebook ripping the Mariners to shreds. Most of these people, excluding the U.S.S. Mariner writers, had never seen video of any of these players. If your friend tells you that he thinks the Mariners are dumb for taking whoever they take today at 4 P.M. tell him that he doesn’t know anything. Neither do you! Neither do I! None of us know anything about what the Mariners are going to do and what fits best for them aside from Jack Z and a few close employees. Some of us have better ideas than others but nothing more. What we do know is that the Mariners will have a new prospect in their top 5 after tonight! Unless you’re really high on… Pimental? Catricala? Francisco Martinez? Carter Capps? Steve Baron? Just kidding. Whoever they draft should be in their and your top 5…
With all of that said, I’m going to give you my draft board because that’s what sports are for. Matthew outlined about 6 players last week in his post and I’ll add a few to those. I don’t know what I’m talking about too much, I’ve seen video of most of them and that’s about it. But, after reading about them and thinking about how I value players, these are my top 8 in order of who I want the most. I would love to see the M’s draft board but you’ll have to settle for mine. Suckers. It may be exactly the same as theirs (I doubt it) or there might not be a single slot the same (probable).
1. Byron Buxton (OF), Appling County High School
Buxton, who will be drafted out of high school, is said to be the best talent in the draft by just about every expert. He’s fast and extremely athletic. He has the build to think that power will come soon in his career. He puts on batting practice shows but that hasn’t completely translated to games yet. He’s the most intriguing player to me because of the raw talent. Most people don’t think he’ll fall to the Mariners but there are rumors that Houston will pick Appel and the Twins go with Correa. I really hope this happens but I won’t get my hopes up.
2. Carlos Correa (SS), Puerto Rican Baseball Academy
Correa is another young guy (17) from Puerto Rico who has a lot of raw hitting talent. He doesn’t have a ton of plate discipline yet but is a very strong hitter. Carlos may be moving to third before too long in his career as most scouts don’t think he can cut it at shortstop. He seems to be Buxton’s only challenger as ‘Most Talented Player’ in the draft. These guys aren’t the safest picks but they are said to have the most talent and I think the Mariners farm system is in a safe enough place to where they can stray away from the safe pick.
3. Mike Zunino (C), University of Florida
Zunino is a college guy from Florida. The organization hasn’t had a catching prospect that’s worked out in…. well, get back to me if you think of someone. Zunino is the most sure position player in the draft. Most experts don’t see him having any problem with catcher and he hits pretty well. He’s belted 2 home runs in the last 2 nights in the college regional. He’s below Buxton and Correa because he just doesn’t have the upside those 2 do, in my mind. You can counter that by saying he’s more major-league ready than both of those guys and you’d be completely right. I think it depends on your preferance there.
4. Kyle Zimmer (SP), USF
Most people wouldn’t agree with this. Every mock draft has Zimmer below fellow college arm Appel and most of them have him below Gausman. Zimmer is just interesting to me. He was recruited to college as a hitter. He did that, then all of a sudden became the staff ace his sophomore year in college. He out-dueled last year’s number 1 pick, Gerrit Cole, in the college world series and then went on to have a very successful Junior season. He throws in the mid-90’s with a few different off-speed pitches. He’s more raw than the other college arms because he hasn’t pitched as much But, that means his arm hasn’t gone through as much wear and tear, as well. I think of him as Taijuan Walker a little bit because of their late starts as pitchers. He has the most upside of the college pitchers because he has the most room to go.
5A. Kevin Gausman (SP), LSU
Gausman is the next in line of the college pitchers. He throws a little harder than Zimmer does and has a good change-up to go with it. He doesn’t have a very good breaking pitch at the moment but, well, I think that’s a little overvalued at times anyway. He is labeled with the ‘number 2 starter ceiling’ in this draft. You know who had that last year? Hultzen. Don’t listen to the scouts on that.
5B. Mark Appel (SP), Stanford
Appel is projected to be the number 1 pick to Houston by most and there was a rumor floating around today that Houston is indeed where he is going. Who knows? Why is he sixth (or tied for fifth) on my list than? Well, along with liking upside, I also like to see results. Appel may have the best ‘stuff’ of anyone in the draft but he wasn’t as dominating as what people expected. That sounds like Gerrit Cole. After half of a minor league season, I’d rather have Hultzen, Bundy and Bauer over Cole who were all drafted behing him because their stuff wasn’t as good. It’s dumb to base things off half a minor league season but that’s what I just did so, take that.
7. Max Fried (SP), Harvard Westlake High School
Fried is a high school arm, a lefty who could be Clayton Kershaw or could be a finesse lefty. We saw last year that the organization likes their lefties who throw in the 90’s but Fried doesn’t seem to project quite the way Hultzen does. He may add some velocity as he gets older, which would put him around 95, and that would truly put him in the Kershaw category. If Jack Z sees that kind of future, then I would be fine with this. Otherwise, we’re getting to the point where any of these would be a huge surprise.
8. Albert Almora (CF), Mater Academy Charter
We’ve seen how valuable a good center fielder can be here in Seattle. Almora is extremely athletic, and although he doesn’t possess the power potential Buxton has but he does have most of the other gifts. He’s sure to be great defensively. He may be a giant reach for the Mariners here but, then again, I have no idea so maybe it wouldn’t be. Why did you even read this far?
9. Lucas Giolito (SP), Harvard Westlake High School
Giolito probably won’t go as high as this but before an elbow injury, he was headed towards the number 1 pick. He’s a high school lefty who throws hard. Of course, I don’t want to spend the third pick of the draft on a guy with injury concerns. If I wasn’t worried about that then he would move up to the number 3 on this list. Unfortunately for Giolito, just about everyone seems worried about his health.
The next 2:
10. Deven Marrero (SS), ASU
11. Andrew Heaney (SP), OSU
So, hopefully you know more a little bit more about these guys now. None of them would disappoint me but I do feel like there’s quite a gap between the first 6 I put and the rest of this list. I could make the same argument about such a gap between the first 2 and the rest of them. Hopefully, Buxton falls to the Mariners and there won’t be any second guessing tonight but that is unlikely due to his talent. I think Zunino or Correa is the most likely but maybe one of the college pitchers is the best option in the front office’s eyes. We’ll see shortly! Happy draft day, again!